The Value of Time
The author, in this Part – III of his Entrepreneurship Series, stresses, among other things, that there is much more to the smart phone in terms of utility in business than just being used as a social media tool.
An old adage says “Time = Money” but for the majority of people, this equation is a very difficult one to solve. While everybody has time, it’s a mystery to a large segment on what to spend the said time on and more often than not, we end up wasting it.
Let me take up from where we left off in the last issue - the phone in your pocket. An average Indian looks at his phone for more than 50 times a day (usually on WhatsApp or Facebook or some other form of social media) and spends, on an average, 4 hours a day being engaged with it, if not more. This is time wasted and it’s not me who’s saying so but literally any successful person rarely engages in social media unless it’s driving forward his targets. For a long time, I was accused by many to have literally “gone dark” on social media – it was true, I couldn’t afford to waste time on SM, unless it aligned with my work requirements.
If you’re an entrepreneur or want to be one, a few questions –
1. How are you engaging on Social Media (SM)?
2. Is SM driving you for its benefit or are you driving it for your benefit?
3. How many SM apps do you have on your phone?
4. How many “work apps” (like LinkedIn, Udemy, BHIM, TracR etc.) do you have?
5. Do you play games on your phone?
6. How many WhatsApp videos do you watch in one day?
7. When was the last time you learned something relevant to your business on an online video?
8. Have you ever been able to apply any knowledge learnt online to save money or earn money online?
9. When was the last time you gained/earned more money over your usual paycheck/profits using only your mobile?
For any person wishing to be an entrepreneur, understanding business viability starts with understanding the value of your time. You as a person have a limited amount of time in a day – 24 hours to be exact. Of these 24, 8 are necessary for sleep and another 6 are required for everyday activities like eating, traveling, bathing/chores. An average human being has about 10 productive hours for working. Most successful people (entrepreneurs or workers) work about 12-14 hours by multi-tasking and using technology to save time. For any entrepreneur, anything saved (time, money, effort) is a profit. For an existing entrepreneur, running a business is usually a full-time effort and he/she already knows the value of time and is always on the look-out to make a profit by saving some.
For either person, understanding the value of time and utilizing it are two different entities. Value is again perspective – what’s of value for me, might not be value for you. This is where learning meshes with experience to deliver specific value.
For example - a local kirana store owner, learning to use an e-wallet or a banking application would offer tangible benefits of time, cost and money (often referred to as opportunity cost). An average shop-owner deals in cash which has to be accounted for, transitioned to a bank account every day or week and balance ledgers need to be maintained. Which is why, most stores (including small kirana businesses) now have a computerized billing system (in India, more than Assam or North-East – we’re still in the process). It just makes better business sense. However, most businesses are still cash-heavy and do not wish to transition to digital transactions, for various reasons. Fear of liability, crashes in online systems, loss of profits, undue transparency, extra charges by banks are some of the reasons usually given.
However, the truth of the matter is simply ignorance on the part of everyone. The merchants and customers are unaware of the security protocols, benefits of such systems and usually even the banks are unwilling to inform them about the advantages for fear of losing traditional means (in which they have invested heavily) or worse, losing control over merchants and customers who can make payments/settlements with minimal bank interference. If both customers and merchants/store owners read more news, were following latest SM updates (relating to their business), they would be aware of the various schemes/subsidies offered by the government, which ensure no one loses out. If anyone googled “digital payments” or “extra charges”, they would find numerous videos and articles online which clarifies this and helps both merchant and customer in getting the best value for their product/service. This is merely an example.
Coming back to the machine in your pocket. How to add value to your time?
If you are looking to be an entrepreneur, knowing your market is crucial – anything you wish to invest your time, effort or money, needs to be well-researched and understood. The online world has an immensity of information that has never been equaled since the dawn of time and it’s mostly FREE. Read about your product/service, watch videos/tutorials about the same, sign-up for free courses online (research again) and most importantly, interact with proven leaders of the field and seek advice/guidance. Spend a minimum of 2 hours a day on reading something new, learning something new. But this must be applicable. Without applicability, any new skill/knowledge has very little value. If you’re already an entrepreneur, the same advice applies but with more emphasis on creating networks, finding mentors and opening up to flexibility of diversification on existing product/service lines to ensure sustainability or decisive growth.
With both approaches, a good idea is to maintain a learning log book to set a habit of learning and applicability. Just like maintaining accounts gives cohesion to expenditure and supports savings, a learning log ensures a step-by-step movement towards knowledge and application.
Above all, start cleaning your phone – delete entertainment apps and games, curtail your social media presence (unless it’s aligned to your work) and pay attention to your watch – 10 hours a day is all you have. Sitting on the toilet to watch a funny animal video on WhatsApp will not further your cause.